As the third screen adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's popular novel, it is an avalanche of sweetness and sentimentality only '30s Hollywood could pull off without having audiences run from theatres in search of insulin. One of the reasons why is this amazing cast of superb character actors (in order of appearance): Una O'Conner, Jessie Ralph, Guy Kibbee, Henry Stephenson, C. Aubrey Smith, Constance Collier, E.E. Clive, plus many more. The title role is played by Freddie Bartholomew, a child actor much loved by mothers and grandmothers, and thoroughly detested by us kids growing up on the lower west side of Manhattan. Delores Costello is his widowed, self-sacrificing mother. Mickey Rooney has a small but important role.
A nine-year-old Brooklyn boy living in genteel poverty, is told he's heir to a British earldom. This necessitates his move to England to live with the aristocratic grandfather he's never known. (Have the first hankie ready for Bartholomew's farewell scenes. Save the second hankie for moisture-inducing scenes to come.) A sudden turn of events puts everything in jeopardy. Nevertheless the plucky lad eventually triumphs. The large cast has no weak links. However the great (sir) C. Aubrey Smith turns in the outstanding performance as Bartholomew's misanthropic grandfather.
Excellent production values, thoroughly professional camerawork and skillful direction designed to wring out every last drop of sentiment, results in industrial-strength schmaltz you will either love or hate. I love it.
The overall print quality is good. There are a few missing-frame dropouts.
CAST NOTE: Delores Costello is billed as Delores Costello Barrymore.
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT: She wrote two more children's books which have received many screen and TV adaptations - "The Secret Garden" and "A (the) Little Princess." Both are available as LebriVox audio books through the following link.
June 18, 2009 Subject:
This movie is a perfect example of what real, clean entertainment should be. You find none of the filth of modern films in these old movies. And this one is among the best.
February 5, 2009 Subject:
I saw this film a few years ago, it's lovely escapist fare with strong cast, and excellent production values. You can tell a lot of money went into this film. The script is excellent as well.
February 5, 2009 Subject:
this was a GREAT movie.If anyone knows any other one's like let me know.
December 9, 2008 Subject:
One Great family movie
This is a really great film. I loved it when I was young and the feeling hasn't changed over the years. It's a "feel good" movie. It might be a little corny but with the world being what it is today I think a little corny is just what we need.
October 19, 2008 Subject:
Still popular story -Little Lord Fauntleroy worth a look!
This "A" list film grabs the essense of the still beloved novel which was a huge best seller in 1885-6. Freddie Bartholomew and cohort Mickey Rooney are two top 1930's child actors (Only Shirley Temple was bigger...)
I love the fight scene where young Cedric Errol attacks the bigger boys who insult his mother. Then, as he fights valiantly - one against several - shoeshine boy Mickey Rooney runs over & together they fight. (Two years later the Americans join the British in fighting the Axis.)
A quality film!
November 1, 2005 Subject:
Freddy's Over the Top, But Still Fun Movie
Freddy Bartholomew nearly ruins the film with his cloying earnestness. Fortunately, the supporting cast is great and the story, though thin, is well-told and well-paced. I think it's interesting that Hollywood is still making these American-with-a-heart-of-gold-finds-out-he/she-is-British-royalty films. Obviously a time-tested formula for a diverting and statisfying piece of fluff, provided one accepts the film on its own terms. If there are deeper elements in this film (as one reviewer suggested), I don't see them. But it's still a fun movie.
October 23, 2005 Subject:
Classic needs no review
This is a 5 star classic everytime I watch it. Great film for the analytical. Lots of content and imagery to pick apart in this film.
October 27, 2004 Subject:
Classic from Beginning to End
One of the best movies produced in the '30s with Freddie Bartholomew at his finest, and Mickey Rooney doing a rich supporting role (He's everywhere). This movie is multi-generational, and will appeal to the moralists as well as those who just like to see the mean old rich man melt and be won over by the ingenuous kid who seems to naturally understand what humanity strives for on the planet.